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‘A lot more that needs to happen’: Southern Alberta First Nations react to Pope Francis’ apology

Click to play video: 'Members of southern Alberta First Nations react to Pope Francis’ apology' Members of southern Alberta First Nations react to Pope Francis’ apology
WATCH: The Catholic Church’s apology resonated with members of southern Alberta First Nations on Friday, some of whom are residential school survivors themselves. Eloise Therien has reaction to the long-awaited sentiment, and more on what some hope will happen moving forward. – Apr 1, 2022

Pope Francis’ apology for the Catholic Church’s role in residential schools is resonating with Indigenous people in southern Alberta.

Patricia Yellow Horn, a member of the Piikani Nation near Lethbridge, was heartened by the long-awaited news.

“I think that made an impactful difference to those survivors and it still hit me on a chord… I felt (it was) really good,” she said.

“I actually shed some tears when I saw that on the news.”

Read more: ‘Now I’m able to forgive’: Alberta residential school survivors speak out on Pope apology

In the 1950s, Yellow Horn was one of thousands of children taken from their families and placed in the residential school system. She attended an Anglican-run residential school in Piikani for around nine years.

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“We had to be so regimented, follow the rules and punished if we speak our language, and punished for different things,” she explained.

Since then, she’s learned to heal.

Click to play video: 'Saskatchewan residential school survivors react to Pope Francis’s apology' Saskatchewan residential school survivors react to Pope Francis’s apology
Saskatchewan residential school survivors react to Pope Francis’s apology – Apr 1, 2022

Then-primate of the Anglian church Michael Peers issued an apology in 1993 and former Prime Minister of Canada Stephen Harper apologized to past students of residential schools more than a decade ago.

Yellow Horn feels these apologies helped bring her peace.

“I accepted it, because we have to move forward in life,” she said. “I know I left it in the past many years ago.”

Read more: What led to the historic papal apology? How the Catholic Church has changed its tone

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But many continue to heal.

“Our survivors will continue to help each other in overcoming this great tragedy that continues to haunt our people,” said Blood Tribe Chief Roy Fox, who said he accepted Friday’s papal apology, but more still needs to be done.

Click to play video: 'Alberta residential school survivors now copping with Pope Francis’ apology' Alberta residential school survivors now copping with Pope Francis’ apology
Alberta residential school survivors now copping with Pope Francis’ apology – Apr 1, 2022

“It has to mean more than just words, we’re tired of words. We’re tired of crocodile tears on T.V.,” Fox admitted. “We want some real action to occur, we want some real resourcing to occur, both from governments and from the churches that were involved.”

“We are on a journey of reconciliation,” said Adam North Peigan. “There’s still a lot more that needs to happen.”

Read more: Pope Francis apologizes for residential schools at Vatican: ‘I ask for God’s forgiveness’

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North Peigan, also a Piikani Nation member, is the president of the Legacy of Hope Foundation. The organization works to educate and create awareness and understanding about the residential school system.

He believes Friday’s apology is a good step forward in a long road ahead.

“As a global leader within the Catholic faith, he does need to come to Canada and (apologize),” North Peigan said.

“It needs to happen in Canada, where we can gather our Indian residential school survivors and all those that have been inter-generationally impacted to gather in a place to bear witness to that historic apology that is forthcoming on Canadian soil.”

He’s also hoping to see the repatriation of Indigenous articles from Vatican City.

“Whether that be a rattle, whether that be a drum, whether that be an Inuit carving or a Métis sash — and those articles need to be repatriated and brought back to Canada, and placed where they rightfully belong.”

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